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In recent decades, Iceland has been attracting filmmakers from all over the world. It is the favourite location of Sci-Fi, fantasy, and fiction genre in general, and for a good reason. The scenery is otherworldly, the nature is eerie and unspoiled, and it is conveniently tucked in between North America and Europe. It’s a haunting, desolate, yet extremely versatile and inspiring canvas that doesn’t require too much work in post-production.
Iceland’s captivating beauty has been featured in far too many blockbusters and several high-ranking TV shows. Most notably, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Enemy Mine (1985), Judge Dredd (1995), Independence Day (1996), The Fifth Element (1997), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), No Such Thing (2001), K-19: The Widowmaker (2002), Shackleton (2002), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), Batman Begins (2005), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Stardust (2007), Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008), Game of Thrones (2011-2019), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), Prometheus (2012), Vikings (2013-2020), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Oblivion (2013), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), After Earth (2013), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Noah (2014), Interstellar (2014), Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Jason Bourne (2016), Justice League (2017), The Fate of the Furious (2017), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) and visually, the most stunning of all - Blade Runner 2049 (2017).
The list goes on and on. It seems that every Sci-Fi franchise has been in Iceland, and so has James Bond, twice, in A View to a Kill (1985) and Die Another Day (2002).
And of course, there is the super charming and heart-warming flick The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) that really made things happen for Iceland.
However, this post is dedicated to the most recent titles, perhaps overlooked, as none of them belong in the blockbuster category. Without further ado, here is our list of 12 recent films and TV shows filmed in Iceland. Enjoy!
1. Sense8 (2015-2018)
Sense8 tells a story of a group of people from all over the world, who are suddenly linked mentally, and must find a way to survive, whilst being hunted by those who see them as a threat to the world's order.
There are several episodes of this Netflix TV show that were filmed in Iceland. One of the most memorable scenes is when a character named Riley walks along the magical Black Sand Beach. Locally known as Reynisfjara, the beach is quite a popular filming location that has hosted many film crews including that of Noah and Star Trek: Into Darkness.
If we have sparked your curiosity to learn about other Sense8 filming locations in Iceland, check out this travel blog post at fangirlquest.com.
2. Fortitude (2015-2018)
Perched on the edge of the Arctic Circle, Fortitude is one of the safest towns on earth. There has never been a violent crime here. Until now. At least that’s how the IMDb, describes the show.
With a decent rating of 7.4, the show might be worth your while, especially since one of the main characters in the show is the Icelandic town of Reyðafjörður.
3. Star Trek: Discovery (2017 - )
Ten years before Kirk, Spock, and the Enterprise, the USS Discovery ventures into new worlds and meets new lifeforms. And one Starfleet officer, named Michael Burnham learns to understand all things alien.
Here, Iceland was featured in the 1st episode of season 3 called “That Hope Is You, Part 1”. In these rather emotional 53 minutes of Star Trek, there is a super cool fighting scene below the Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
4. Lost in Space (2018 - )
After crash-landing on an alien planet, the Robinson family fight against all odds to survive and escape, but they're surrounded by hidden dangers.
Another TV show on this list, and in our humble opinion, rather unfairly treated by IMDb voters. It’s a lovely family drama and a tear-jerking story about a boy and his robot.
This show has visited Iceland in its 2nd season, featuring Dyrhólaey, as well as Skogafoss and Gullfoss waterfalls.
5. Cold Skin (2017)
In 1914, just after Franz Ferdinand's assassination that eventually caused World War I, a steamship approached a desolate island on the edge of the Antarctic Circle, where a young nameless man is poised to take the post of weather observer, to live in solitude at the ends of the earth for an entire year until the arrival of his replacement. For the next twelve months, his entire world will consist of a deserted cabin, the surrounding sea, and dangerous, strange beings that he discovers are sharing the island.
And what better desolate location is there to be shared with strange creatures, than Iceland! To be honest, we are yet to check this film out, but from what we could see, the Seljalandsfoss waterfall is definitely in it!
6. Alpha (2018)
Another story about survival, this time set in the Upper Paleolithic or the Late Stone Age, about a young man who struggles to return home after being separated from his tribe during a buffalo hunt. He finds a similarly lost wolf companion and starts a friendship that would forever change humanity.
Essentially, this is a story about a boy and his dog featuring various locations in Iceland that were used for CGI plate photography.
7. Arctic (2018)
A man stranded in the Arctic after a plane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown.
The man is no other than Mads Mikkelsen himself, and the unknown is the unforgiving cold of Iceland. This slow-burning but somehow excting survival story was filmed entirely in Iceland, and we are sure it will provide 98 well-spent minutes.
8. The Wandering Earth (2019)
As the sun is dying out, people all around the world build giant planet thrusters to move Earth out of its orbit and sail Earth to a new star system. Yet the 2500-year journey comes with unexpected dangers, and in order to save humanity, a group of young people in this age of a wandering Earth fight hard for the survival of humankind.
Yes, this Chinese science-fiction film is so over the top that we were at a loss for words when we saw it. However, it gets bonus points for the outrageous idea, marvellous CGI and fantastic scenery.
9. Greenland (2020)
A family fights for survival as planet-killing comet races to Earth. Amid terrifying news accounts of cities around the world being leveled by the comet's fragments, the Garritys experience the best and worst in humanity while they battle the increasing panic and lawlessness surrounding them. As the countdown to global apocalypse approaches zero, their incredible trek culminates in a desperate and last-minute flight to a possible safe haven.
The safe haven is supposed to be Greenland, that is Iceland, as all Greenland scenes were actually shot in Iceland.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this feature didn’t do so well in the box office, but we give it flying colors, for amazing scenery and Gerard Butler.
10. The Midnight Sky (2020)
Yet, another one about the survival of our planet. This post-apocalyptic tale follows Augustine, a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop Sully and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.
The movie was directed by George Clooney and all outdoor Arctic scenes were shot in Iceland. More precisely, the majestic Skálafellsjökull glacier.
11. Love on Iceland (2020)
Seeking inspiration for work, Chloe gathers her college travel group back together for a trip to Iceland. When her ex, a member of the group, shows up uninvited, sparks fly.
Finally, a light-hearted story, great for killing 84 minutes on a Sunday afternoon. It’s a TV movie, so don’t expect much, but sparks do fly, after all, the entire film was shot in the land of fire and ice.
In the film, you will see the Svínafellsjökull glacier, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, the Ice caves, the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, the Diamond Beach and the city of Reykjavík.
12. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
We couldn’t skip this one, it is so painfully European, it hurts. It is silly, it is sparkling and bubbly and it will take your mind off the pandemic and bring you back to the good old times for sure!
The story revolves around two aspiring musicians, Lars and Sigrit, who are given the opportunity to represent Iceland at the world's biggest song competition, where they will finally have a chance to prove that any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for.
Will Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Demi Lovato, Graham Norton, Dan Stevens, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, need we say more?
Ah yes, some of the many scenes filmed in Iceland were done in the northern town of Húsavík and the aerial shot in the first scene was of the Gullfoss waterfall.
So, there you have it, we hope you enjoyed our list of 12 recent films and TV shows filmed in Iceland. As a bonus, we are giving you a little something to look forward to!
The following titles, all partially filmed in Iceland, are expected to be released in the foreseeable future.
The Tomorrow War (2021), with Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski and J.K. Simmons. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) with Tom Holland, Zendaya and Benedict Cumberbatch. And the long-awaited Game of Thrones prequel - House of the Dragon (2022 - ) about the House Targaryen, set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones.
And finally, should you find yourself roaming the desolate terrain of Iceland any time soon, here’s a very cool map of filming locations that someone awsome went through the trouble of creating, as well as a very detailed article about some of the titles we’ve mentioned at the top of this post.